‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free,
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain’d,
To bow and to bend we will not be asham’d,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come round right.
This week’s spiritual practice is simplicity. Richard J. Foster writes in Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth, “The Christian Discipline of simplicity is an inward reality that results in an outward life-style.” (pg. 79) He writes about how simplicity leads to liberation. After all, Jesus warned us “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:21) Jesus knew that wealth can have a grip on peoples’ hearts and numb them to the hardships of others. Jesus called all who would follow him to joyfully leave their possessions behind. He spoke about economic issues more than any other single social issue. Foster emphasizes, “If, in a comparatively simple society, our Lord lays such strong emphasis upon the spiritual dangers of wealth, how much more should we who live in a highly affluent culture take seriously the economic question.” (pg. 83)
Richard Foster shares some of the practices we could undertake to live more simply. He goes into greater detail for each, though I am just going to list them for us to consider.
1.) Buy things for their usefulness rather than their status.
2.) Reject anything that is producing addiction in you.
3.) Develop a habit of giving things away.
4.) Refuse to be propagandized by the custodians of modern gadgetry.
5.) Learn to enjoy things without owning them.
6.) Develop a deeper appreciation for the creation.
7.) Look with a healthy skepticism at all “buy now, pay later” schemes.
8.) Obey Jesus’ instructions about plain, honest speech.
9.) Reject anything that breeds the oppression of others.
10.) Shun anything that distracts you from seeking first the kingdom of God.
What strikes you about this list that is one person’s take on living out the spiritual practice of simplicity? Is this hard or easy to practice? How does it make you feel? Sit with this list of outward practices and see what may come to your mind and heart. And this week, I will leave you with the immortal words of Henry David Thoreau, “Simplify, simplify.”
Thursday Thoughts 8/5/21
*Photo taken by Rev. Lauren Lorincz on a fall day at Walden Pond in Concord, MA.